You can train so that there is less decision time but for even the simplest actions the response times still comes to about 0.2 seconds. I have not checked this but I believe it is the same for the cat if the cat had to 'decide' something as the muscle and nervous system physiology is largely the same. It may be that the cat has some other things 'hard wired' that we don't like striking in response to a visual stimulus.
I don't know about research but there is a lot of evidence that memories are contained in places other than the brain. I heard a talk by a heart surgeon long ago that reported the recipient having some memories of the donor after a heart transplant.